The Party Man from Kiev

Anyone for a game of musical chairs? Shortly after Vladimir Ivashko, 58, was elected chairman of the Ukrainian parliament last month, he stepped down as first secretary of the republic's Communist Party. Then, two weeks ago, he abruptly resigned from his post in Kiev and won the key job of deputy to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.

Ivashko has been described in the unofficial Ukrainian press as looking more like "a balding accountant in a collective farm than a man who manages people's destinies" -- but appearances are obviously deceiving. When Ukrainian party boss Vladimir Shcherbitsky, a Brezhnev-era holdover, refused to be...